In our math lessons from livingmath.net, we’re up to the contributions of India and Arabia in the Middle ages, focusing on the number zero and positive and negative numbers.
To make integers more coherent for Sprite, I hunted for some illustrations. Of course, there is the number line, but here are some real life parallels to positive and negative numbers which we started with:
- money — assets and debts
- floors in a building, above and below the ground floor
Here’s the timeline parallel. I titled this photo Jesus is Zero. Isn’t that mathematically perfect? The printable came from Montessori for Everyone.
Zero is an essential number both in place value and on the number line. I love the part in the poem “Zero” in Math Talk that says, “I’m the origin on the number line.” What an amazing parallel. Numbers, both positive and negative are valued in their relationship to zero. Time itself is measured in relation to the life of Christ. So in that way, Christ is Zero — the center, the origin, the base and foundation.
There is no way we’d get these insights from Singapore Math textbook. Lovin’ living math!
For the thermometer application, we used page 13 from the FREE ebook –Fast Ideas for Busy Teachers, Grade 4.
We read the first three chapters of The Journey of Al & Gebra to the Land of Algebra. This book is a bit hokey. Okay, it’s really hokey. The story is terribly strained to get in the math concepts. BUT, it’s making Sprite laugh at the silliness in it. And the concepts and vocabulary (integers, absolute value) are getting through. So even though I wouldn’t say it qualifies as a true living book, I’m leaving it in our curriculum for now. (The reading for this title is scheduled in our livingmath.net lesson plans.)
We used this Less Than Zero lesson plan that includes a printable game board pictured above plus a link to a very fun online math game that Sprite enjoyed. (Sprite just loves it when I say, “Your math activity is an online game today.”)
Education World has another good game idea for learning about the number line. I adapted the game into a life-sized version.
I asked Sprite to create a life-sized number line so that she could serve as the playing piece. That got her attention! She was filled with anticipation about the game.
I saved each combination and had Sprite write down the math problems and answers after she had walked them out across the numberline.
To help her grasp subtracting integers, I told a story which she had to act out on the numberline.
“You had $7 when we went out. You found a totebag that cost $13 and asked me to loan you the extra money to cover it. Now how much money do you have? (Owe $6 / -6.) Then you did the dishes, and I subtracted -$2. How much do you have now?”
And so on with Sprite going into debt and working back out of it in various humorous situations. The sillier the better. It hides the fact that you’re actually learning math.
Here is a notebooking page to go along with this study –Positive and Negative Numbers Notebooking Page (1371). Later this week, I’ll have Sprite record what she learned on it.
To be clear, the activities I’ve listed here were not done in on day or even one week. Actually, this study covered about two weeks worth of math instruction although we were working on other concepts as well (parallel and perpendicular lines, to be exact). I have found that with Sprite and math, Charlotte Mason’s advice is perfect — small doses with repetition work much more effectively than long lessons.